FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA) --- Gail "Boo" Perkins cuddles with a new baby boy. The infant is a foster child who the Perkins family loves as one of their own.
Seven years ago, the Perkins helped a friend care for a sick foster baby. They worked with the non-profit, Northern Va. Family Service (NVFS).
Boo says she chose to take in children up to age four, close to the ages of her own children at the time. They were quickly hooked, and even adopted one foster boy.
Boo's family is a mix of three biological children and one adopted child. Along with husband Jerry, everyone cares for the little ones.
"We never got into foster care to adopt," says Perkins. "Actually we got in to do weekend respite care...Seventeen kids later, here we are," she says with a warm laugh.
The babies coming through the non-profit often have health issues like fetal alcohol syndrome or drug addiction. NVFS provides a stipend for the foster baby's medical care.
So the Perkins make regular trips to the hospital and give medication to the babies. And it's all worth it.
"As a family we feel the call that, that God's called us to provide that safe haven for children. So that they can not be saddled with attachment disorder with the rest of their lives," says Jerry.
The Perkins say the baby can develop healthy relationships with his or her caregivers through foster care.
"We have seen very, very sick little ones turn out to be amazingly, great little kids, so we do it for the love of the kids," says Perkins.
Despite all these years, the Perkins say it's too easy to fall in love and never easy to say goodbye when the time comes.
"It's hard. You cry, you get upset...but you just know they're in the Lords hands, you've done with what you can do," says Perkins.
Northern Virginia Family Service currently works with 60 foster care families. But the need is always there.
"We need parents of all types, all different cultures, races, ages, single parents, married," says Maggie Moreland, foster care program manager for NVFS.
To be a good foster care parent, the Perkins say you need lots of patience, but it's an experience that changes lives.
The foster babies help give the Perkins' own children who are home-schooled, a chance to learn about serious issues first-hand like the dangers of drug or alcohol abuse.
NOTE: The Gannett Foundation has given a donation to Northern Virginia Family Service.
Written by: Elizabeth Jia
9NEWS NOW & WUSA9.com